Media Release: New Zealand's economy faces challenges as Ireland thrives

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
15 August, 2023

Wellington (Tuesday, 15 August 2023) - Many New Zealanders know that the kiwi economy here has faced struggles over the decades and not performed as well as many other countries.

But today's news may still surprise them: Ireland has not just moved ahead of us. Ireland is leaving New Zealand's economic growth in the dust.

Once known as Europe's poorhouse, Ireland's growth overshadows New Zealand's. A new research report by The New Zealand Initiative makes this clear.

The report, titled Benchmarking New Zealand's Economic Performance Against Ireland's by Dr Bryce Wilkinson, looks closely at both countries' economies. It shows the important role foreign investment has played in Ireland’s astonishing income growth.

Here are some key facts:

  • Ireland's income per person is now higher 78 percent higher than New Zealand's. in 1979, it was still 22 percent lower.
  • Ireland's workers are producing almost three times as much value for each hour they work compared to New Zealand.
  • Ireland is attracting more foreign money, called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). By 2021 it had accumulated over 14 times as much foreign direct investment per capita as New Zealand, according to UNCTAD statistics.

As Dr Wilkinson shows, Ireland has made good policy choices which propelled its growth. 

This report is not just a piece of news. It comes at an important time because New Zealanders will have to make a choice about the economic path forward at this year's election.

The New Zealand Initiative wants everyone - leaders in government, business, and everyday people - to read this report. They believe New Zealand can learn from Ireland to do better economically.



Read our research note: Benchmarking New Zealand’s Economic Performance Against Ireland’s here

Dr Bryce Wilkinson is available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Dr Bryce Wilkinson, Senior Fellow
P: 027 445 5326

About The New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute contributing to public policy discussion.

Supported by the nation’s leading visionaries, business leaders and political thinkers, we are committed to making New Zealand a better country for all its citizens with a world-class education system, affordable housing, a healthy environment, sound public finances and a stable currency.  |  Subscribe to Insights, our weekly newsletter.



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